I’ve been following the progress of Australia-based Gizmo 3D Printers, who recently survived a near-fatal corporate heart attack.
I first saw the small company in the basement startup ghetto at January’s Consumer Electronics Show, where I was amazed to see ultra-fine 3D prints emerging from a rough-looking machine at high speed. In fact, several prints completed during my brief visit.
It all looked extremely promising, and the company launched a very successful Indiegogo campaign that closed earlier this month. They raised USD$135,810 - not a huge amount, but more than sufficient for Gizmo 3D Printers to get started in a very serious manner.
Everything was going very peachy, and then:
Dear valued customers,
We regret to inform you that we are faced with an unforseen situation where PayPal has decided to block a large amount of the funding that you so kindly contributed to our Indiegogo campaign. Even after we have sent them all of the requested documentation to release the funding (confirming the reasons and intentions for the funding etc), they have informed us that they will not be releasing the funds anytime soon.
We will be unable to deliver your much appreciated orders in time if we do not have the money to do so.
If that’s not certain death for the company, I don’t know what is. I was quite concerned as this company has developed an incredibly simple, powerful and extremely fast 3D printing technology that just cannot be lost.
But then today, a second announcement from CEO Kobus du Toit:
We are very happy and relieved to announce that PayPal has apologised and released the Indiegogo funds! Production is back on track :)
It's been a very humbling experience to see so much support from the community while our funds were placed on hold, thank you for the supportive messages and emails - we appreciate it.
That’s great news, and very important for the 3D printing community.
But there’s also a lesson here: in business, anything can happen and you must be ready to deal with situations as they arise. In the case of PayPal, they are known for this sort of thing happening. In a quest to ensure they don’t support illegal activities, PayPal’s automated detection algorithms shut down what they believe to be bad activity. Sometimes such systems have “false positives” and small companies like Gizmo 3D Systems get caught up in it. Fortunately, there’s a good outcome here and I’m looking forward to seeing more developments from the Australian company.